Do you want to free up time to do the things you love?
Time comes up in almost every conversation I have with friends, colleagues and clients. Not having enough hours in the day seems to create a constant feeling of stress and anxiety. People have experienced guilt, letting others down and struggling to find the opportunity to relax.
Everyone has 24 hours available so why do some people seem to have plenty of time and are rarely stressed and some people are always rushing around?
How do you find the balance? Can you free up time to do the things that you want whilst carrying on doing the things you have to? I believe you can. Time management is a skill which can be learnt.
Here are my top 5 tips for freeing up time.
Work out your values, goals and then plan
Values help you to understand what is important in your life. It might be financial security, achievement, friendships, keeping healthy and so on. Translate your values into goals and then plan. If you value healthy living, then are you spending time undertaking activities which help you achieve this? What does living healthily look like? Is it eating eight portions of fruit and veg a day? Are you scheduling in time to shop for this and then cooking healthy meals? Once you understand what your values and goals are you can think about whether your time is being effectively spent in these areas.
Prioritise your to do list
Empty your head of everything that needs doing onto paper and then prioritise that list. Identify two or three things that must be done that day. Look at the tasks which can be completed during the week and finally the tasks that are not urgent and not important. Review the list each evening and reprioritise. Keep the ‘must do’ list for each day to two or three activities. People who manage their time effectively rarely react to things, they see things coming and act in good time to take action. Commit to spending a specific amount of time to something and stick to it. Don’t be tempted to overrun. Breaking tasks down and allocating time to them makes the task feel more achievable. If you need to sort out your paperwork, then devote an hour a week to it, set a timer if necessary. It may not all get completed in the first hour, but it will feel less overwhelming the next time you tackle it.
Track how long your key activities take. This can be done using a time log or more simply timing yourself so you are more realistic about what you can achieve in a period of time. Some things take longer than you think, some things less. You have half an hour in the morning….is it realistic to have a shower, check your emails and get the children out the door for school? How long do each of these activities really take? Always build in contingency. The traffic might be bad, your boss might phone as you’re leaving the house. Assume that something will hold you up and add 10 minutes. This will reduce stress levels.
Find the balance and then set boundaries
It is a fact of life that some things must be done, for example life admin will always feature on your list of things to do. Schedule it in but make sure it is balanced with activities that move you towards your goals. Segment your time and be clear about your boundaries. Are your evenings for the family? Then don’t schedule in Zoom calls. Learn to say no. Remember what you value and what your goals are. The majority of your time should be focussed on the things and people that fit with your personal values.
Recognise unhelpful thinking
The tips above are all practical steps to free up time but they do not take into consideration your emotional reaction to the tasks you set yourself. You might feel guilty for not spending time with the children so prioritise this over an activity such as exercise which moves you towards a healthy living goal. You might become angry if you must do a boring or unpleasant task. Considering your emotional response to each task can help you to work out why you are putting it off.
…..and finally, if something takes less than two minutes, do it straight away!
You can learn good time management. I can help you develop the skills to make time. The links above provide you with the templates to start to think about moving forward and freeing up time. If you would like to look at how this can work in your life then please get in touch.
Contact me on 07766 578453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.